I got married in 2005. My wedding including ceremony, reception for over 120 people, rings (diamond rings for both of us) and an overseas honeymoon was under $10,000. I could have had a wedding for much less and I know I could have saved more money, but I think we did well.
I married a Polynesian which means there were a lot of people to be invited. As it was, the original list he had was 350+, which was just not going to happen. I negotiated our reception package and halved the cost of it, but it alone was $5,000. A fair chunk of the reception was paid for by my parents, as well as my dress, shoes etc. So we had a bit more to play with than if we had been footing the whole cost ourselves, but I still wanted to keep it reasonable.
To keep costs down, there was quite a few things I did:
Our rings did not cost a lot because my sister in laws family has been i the jewellery business since the 1940’s and her father had a jewellery store where I got my engagement ring for a fraction of the $4,500 value, with a valuation certificate and getting it resized. I was originally going to have it made, but he happened to have a ring which was almost the same as what I wanted made, so I went for that instead.
If you wanted you could go second hand and buy a used ring to cut costs, if there is a family heirloom you could use that, or if you don’t like the style, you always have the option of using the stones and gold and have a ring made that you like and will wear.
I wore my mum’s dress for my ceremony. It was all I wanted, but it couldn’t be found at first. It was her cousins dress and when my parents got married they had no money so my mums cousins let mum wear her dress. I was the 3rd family member to wear it. Since it couldn’t be located at first I needed to buy one. I shopped around and bough one for $300 off the rack. this same dress was $700 a few stores down and over $1,000 a few more stores down, so it pays to shop around.
My aunty arrived from interstate with my mum’s wedding dress so I ended up with 2 dresses. I wore mum’s at the ceremony and my ‘off the rack dress’ at the reception.
My bridesmaids dresses were made by a friend, and on of the bridesmaids amazing mum hemmed them for us. They were done in Canberra, my bridesmaids live in 3 different states and my wedding was in Sydney.
Our groomsmen got their suits and shirts from an outlet. Total cost was $99each and the suits were worn for subsequent weddings and things, so put to good use.
All the wedding flowers were done by a florist cousin. She bought the flowers from the markets and did a great job.
Hair was done at the salon I worked at (I was a hairdresser) an a friend/cousin did the make-up (I was so lucky because she is a movie/theatre make-up artist and worked on Lord Of The Rings etc).
We are Mormon and got married in our Temple, which was free. I got married in the same room as my parents, but the same man who married my brother and my parents. He was an old friend of my grandparents and I asked him if he would kindly wed us and he did, so it was special.
We were supposed to have some nice cars from my husbands side, but different things happened and in the end we used our car and my brothers car for the bridal part and we had a friend who had recently got a really nice car to drive us. He even got us non alcoholic lambrusco for the trip. We accidentally left paperwork in his car we needed for our honeymoon and he came to us (45mins from where he lives) to give it to us and even offered to drop us at a station closer to the airport so we would not miss our flight or anything. He ended up doing a few weddings after us.
Our reception went from $89 – $105 a head down to under $45a head. We booked midweek which instantly saved us money. Many of our guests were travelling interstate and some planned on making a holiday of it, so it didn’t have to be a weekend and it meant we got our pick of venues.
We had no alcohol as we and most of our family and friends do not drink. This saved a lot.
We had our own DJ (a cousin) and MC (my dad), flowers (cousin who was a florist) and I didn’t want his wedding cars. All these things reduced the price each time we took something out of the package.
We had Polynesian dancers between each meal. I hate being bored at weddings, so wanted something happening all the time to entertain everyone. I still hear about how fantastic it was. My husband’s youngest sister danced first, then his brother and eldest sister performed a song, followed by more dancers. The Haka was also done, as planned by my husband. 2 of my brothers learned it and performed it with 30+ other Polynesian men and it shook the whole building.
Family and friends took photos. I did not want to spend thousands on some photos, most of which sit in a box. We got some amazing photos that I am really happy with and do no regret not having a photographer or videographer. Someone filmed some of our reception and there are some really funny commentary happening while they were filming which makes the video so great and would not have happened if we had a professional.
Yes, I had 2. It was meant to be 1 in Canberra, as the wedding was in Sydney, but there ended up being 2. My family did the Canberra one and it was great. The did everything themselves, organised games and things and even had family from Tasmania fly up to surprise me. I really appreciated it and got to keep some of the decorations and things for my scrapbook.
The Sydney one was done by my mother in law arranged the Sydney one with the help of church members. Male cousins and friends performed the Haka to us and my father in law was able to print out poster size pictures of us to be hung around too.
We went to New Zealand for our honeymoon. I searched for cheap flights, booked some of our accommodation and since my husband is 1/2 Maori we got a lot of things through family and friends, including tours and events, so it was a lot cheaper than an overseas holiday would be for most people.
There are many other things I could have done to cut costs, and I have some real nightmare stories from this wedding involving DIY/getting friends and family instead of paying the venue or a professional to do it all, which I will share in a future post.
How did you save money with your wedding?